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Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me: 7th Edition [Paperback]

Paula Begoun , Bryan Barron
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 4 2008 Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me
For women who want to make wise cosmetic and skin-care decisions, look beautiful and save money, Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me is a must-have, written by the only person serving as a "watchdog" of the ever-increasing $40-billion cosmetics industry. In this completely updated edition, Paula Begoun offers straightforward, specific product evaluations and an easy-to-use rating system. Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me helps women find products that make them look great without spending a fortune. It's the only book to cut through the "hype" and get straight to the facts about which products work and which are a waste of money. From drugstores and home shopping to department stores and catalogues, Begoun reviews all the major cosmetic and skin-care lines, product by product (more than 30,000 products in all). Regardless of the price tags, there are good and bad products in almost every line--and with the turn of a page, readers can get concise reviews and fast answers. A user-friendly rating system makes it easy to find items worth trying.

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Women spend an extraordinary amount of money on cosmetics--$45 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Now in its fourth edition, Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me strikes fear in cosmetics-counter consultants everywhere. First off, Begoun has deconstructed ingredient lists. Ever wonder what methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben are doing in your mascara? And what is diazolidinyl urea? All four are potential irritants, and the latter is a preservative that can release formaldehyde, a class A carcinogen. Buyer beware.

Begoun also lists which companies are cruelty-free and which continue to conduct animal testing. The majority of the book--and that's nearly 800 pages--is devoted to reviews of thousands of cosmetics, from cleansers, foundations, alpha-hydroxy acids, and moisturizers to lip liners, eye shadows, and concealers, all of which Begoun has personally tested. (There are no hair care products listed, as that warrants another book entirely: Don't Go Shopping for Hair Care Products Without Me.)

She's perfectly frank and tells it like it is. (On Revlon's ColorStay Makeup: "goes far beyond the claim of 'It won't come off on him.' It won't come off when you want it to.") You'll learn how to tell when you're being boondoggled by a salesperson, what's overpriced and overhyped, as well as what's overlooked. More than 200 brands are included, along with a helpful summary at the end that lists the best products for each cosmetic category. It should be noted that not only is Begoun a fine consumer advocate, she's also a self-esteem advocate: she mentions time and again that even the best cosmetics won't necessarily improve your life, and that's a point well taken. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

PAULA BEGOUN (Seattle) has been reporting on the beauty industry for more than 25 years. Her unique angle on the cosmetics industry has earned her nicknames such as "The Ralph Nader of Rouge" and the "Cosmetics Cop." She is an internationally recognized authority as a consumer advocate for the cosmetics and hair-care industries and appears regularly on television and radio and in magazines. Begoun has a syndicated column with Knight-Ridder News Tribune Service and has appeared on CNN, Oprah, 20/20, ABC's Primetime, Dateline NBC, the View, the Today Show, CBS This Morning and Good Morning America.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best March 30 2003
I am amazed at some of the reviews which demonstrate that some alleged readers didn't read the book very carefully at all. Paula clearly admits that the reviews in her book are her opinions. However, I've been reading her books for over a decade, and her opinions are based on solid, thorough, scientific research NOT funded by anyone other than herself. I don't know of another book that can make that claim. She mixes her opinions with facts that few others dare because she has nothing to lose in the process. When she tells the truth, we all benefit. Articles in women's magazines stand to lose an enormous amount of advertising revenue if any editorials threaten to blow Estee Lauder, Lancome, Clinique, Maybelline, or any cosmetics company that spends literally millions of dollars in ads off their solid gold pedestals. Paula also states quite clearly that if a certain regime or product works for the consumer, then the consumer should stick with it.
However, for the rest of us who need guidance in choosing what is best for our skin and make-up routines, this book is a godsend. She rates products on the ingredients they contain, their effect on the skin, and how well they work. She never claims that all products purchased in a drugstore are as good as those purchased at expensive prices in department stores. She freely acknowledges some poor products that are inexpensive do exist. And she also acknowledges that some poor products which are expensive also exist. In other words, the price of the cosmetic has nothing to do with its effectiveness, safety, or application.
What this book really does is give facts to help the consumer separate fact from fiction.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One long commercial Sept. 30 2003
I have been fascinated by and researched cosmetics for years (I haunt Sephora), so I was eager to sit down with this and leaf through it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to the point of being irate, so have waited for a while before writing in the heat of the moment.
My primary objection is with Ms. Begoun's strong bias against products based on natural ingredients. If one was to believe her, then botanical by-products and extracts are the bane of all skin care, and every one to be considered as dangerous as poison ivy. Taking it a step further, she poo-poos one CEO's assertion as to the danger of petrochemicals (so prevalent in cheaper cosmetics especially), wondering sarcastically if this person does not drive a car, fly a plane, live in a heated home etc. The obvious argument here of course being that one hopefully does not apply toxins like petroleum, gasoline, etc. to their skin on a daily basis, where it is absorbed directly into the system. Remember why "patch" medications work. It is naive to assume that our body is not on some level absorbing/consuming what we put on our skin.
Her prejudice also comes through in which studies she chooses to play up (to her convenience), and which are dismissed as though they were conducted in someone's kitchen sink. Either her research is thoroughly lacking, or she only researched tests and studies that support her premise of what's safe and of good quality, and what's not.
Despite the well-known concerns of sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates, published by a number of independent groups, she insists these are nothing objectionable. Even if the suspected carcinogenic traits are never proven, it's doubtful that anything that has raised such a question (or even furor) is safe period, cancer-causing or not.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If you loved her first book you'll hate this one! Aug. 26 2003
By A Customer
If you are expecting the type of information you got in Ms Begoun's first book, you want get it in this one.
For instance, I used the BEST BUYS list in the first book extensively and found it to be reliable. This edition has thirty or so items in each category with no mention of the best prices. Also, in her first book I often disagreed with Ms. Begoun on products I have personally used as did many of the blind test groups. There are no test groups in this edition just facts, formulas and ingredients.
I also found her own product line in the book a little too self promoting.
Unless you are in need of a list of ingredients in cosmetics I can't see any point in this book as a reference.
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2.0 out of 5 stars New Edition has no ingredient lists Sept. 13 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This Cosmetics Guide used to have a complete list of cosmetics ingredients which she refers to in her reviews of cosmetics section. In the version I had from the library on numerous occasions previously, there was detailed reference information on a huge compendium of ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn't' note in the Amazon description, or it wasn't addressed, that the ingredients section had been taken out. The fact that it is now available through an online is great ultimately, especially if it is being kept up-to-date regularly; however, I now found the information in the book much less useful.

My main interest was in the reviews of non- and natural soap and bath products to contrast with the customers of my hobby soapmaking/bath basket business.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Resource and Information on Certain Products July 17 2007
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Often when I'm looking into buying a certain product and I really want it, I am hoping Ms. Begoun has something good to say about it, but she often doesn't, lol. But all in all, I think if you're shopping for skin care and make-up, you MUST have this book. I don't always take her word for everything she states about a certain product, but it's nice to have her opinion before making such a expensive purchase.
I highly recommend you have this if you are shopping for cosmetics! Also check out her website, it's also very informative!
ps: I also agree with the last reviewer, I also like The Skin Type Solution, it's a great book on helping you discover your skin type and helps out find the right products for your skin.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book you will find handy
Fairly comprehensive review of a broad range of products with a healthy dose of wit and sarcasm which makes an entertaining read. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2010 by maximany
1.0 out of 5 stars huge conflict of interest
This woman has zero scientific background. She has a history of lying about her products (unstable sunscreens, etc. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2010 by sceptic
5.0 out of 5 stars Readings saved me a lot of money!
I read very thoroughly the products suggested for my skin type (be sure to read carefully as you may see notes for instance that even if a product is for oily skin it tends to cake... Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2010 by Mrs. C.
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me: Eighth Edition
all in all, i think a person would be better to get info about this type of stuff from periodicals, as the book leaves many items and brands out, and seems to be significantly... Read more
Published on July 12 2010 by J. Best
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value
She has helped save me a lot of money! Do I agree with everything she has to say. Not always, but her book gives me a strong foundation with it comes to the beauty industry. Read more
Published on April 5 2010 by Lady Red
4.0 out of 5 stars she is amazing
I have been reading Paula's books for years, and have been a industry pro in hair/make-up/skin care for over 15 years. She is on the money. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2009 by S. Hilts
5.0 out of 5 stars "Bible" for Beauty Junkies!
I've read Paula's book for about 10 years now. This new edition is great! Be sure to read the beginning of the book before reviewing the reviews - gives you a better background. Read more
Published on April 13 2008 by Shepherdess Extraordinaire
1.0 out of 5 stars want a good book for skin care then don't read this book
I have researched and read many books on this subject and I don't presume to write a book on the subject like this author does. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2007 by Rebecca L
1.0 out of 5 stars Paula Begoun - the Kevin Trudeau of the Cosmetics Field
You've got to give this woman credit - she is one saavy marketer. Does she know skin care? Does she know science? Doesn't seem to matter. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2006 by Marie Irrer
1.0 out of 5 stars A writer, not a cosmetic pro
I have worked in the cosmetics industry for 12 years, and represent many brands. Ms. Begoun's biggest problem is that she only had about 2 weeks of experience before she was... Read more
Published on June 1 2006 by G. Raketti
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